Research Key

Rural zones and food supply to Buea urban markets in the Buea Municipality

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This study is out to examine the role of rural zones in terms of food supply to urban markets in the Buea Municipality. The study specifically assessed the marketing cost and marketing margins of producers, wholesalers and retailers, examine the price spread and producers share of ultimate consumer francs and assess the efficiency of the market. To achieve this, the study adopted a cross- sectional descriptive survey design, whereby structured questionnaires were distributed to 246 conveniently selected farmers, wholesalers and retailers. The quantitative data were analyzed using descriptive statistics such as counts, frequency, mean and standard deviation using SPSS 20 software. Standards techniques were used to assess the marketing cost, margins and price spread while the Acharya’s model of was used to assess marketing efficiency. The study found out that wholesalers as compared to producers and retailers have the lowest cost ratio and high profit margin for invariably all the selected food crops. The study also found out that price spread was high for all the products and producers received 56.8%, 32.7%, 47.7%, 40.24%, 53.5% and 36.43% of the consumer francs for cocoyam, plantains, sweet bitter leaf, maize, cassava and banana respectively. Finally, the study indicated the marketing efficiency was moderate for cocoyam (60.7%), maize (62.1%), and cassava (60.9%), almost moderate for sweet bitter leaf (49.3%) and low for plantains (35.1%) banana (41%). The study concluded that there an empirical base for allegations of producer exploitation in the marketing of selected food crops given that producers as compared to wholesalers receive a small share of consumer francs which are further eroded by high cost incurred in marketing the produce. The study recommended that to increase food supply to the urban markets, roads should be repaired and  the government should take proactive steps to reduce various cost streams along the food production and marketing chain.




This chapter focuses on the general introduction of the study. It therefore comprises of specific themes like the research background, research problem, research questions and objectives, hypothesis and scope and significance of the study.

Background of the study

Food security is one of the major goals of the UN (United Nations) in their Millennium Development Goals Agenda (Zeboc, 2009). This is because there is a need to feed the world’s expanding population which is not met up with an increase in food production and supply. Rural areas around the world are the major bread baskets zones of food production that sustains the urban towns (Inverson,2008). This is mainly because of low population experienced in rural areas and enough land which can support agricultural production. Urban centers on the contrary are strategic for business and educational activities not agriculture (Philip, 2003). It is for this reason that the rural areas must supply food to the urban markets so as to ensure food security in a particular area.

Similarly, much remains to be done to fulfill the vision of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO): to create ‘a world free of hunger and malnutrition and one in which food and agriculture contribute to improving the living standards of all, especially the poorest, in an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable manner’. Amid great plenty, billions of people still face pervasive poverty, gross inequalities, joblessness, environmental degradation, disease and deprivation. Displacement and migratory flows are at their highest levels since the Second World War. Many armed conflicts have been resolved, but new ones have emerged. Much of humanity’s progress has come at a considerable cost to the environment. The impacts of climate change are already being felt, and – if left unabated – will intensify considerably in the years ahead. Globally integrated production processes have brought many benefits, but present challenges in terms of their regulation and the need to steer them towards more equitable and sustainable outcomes.

Prior to the 20th century and the Green Revolution, almost all increase in food production was obtained by bringing new land into production. But agricultural land is scarce and our ability to supply food, feed and fuel, while maintaining environmental services depends on our cultivation practices. Two different outcomes of yield-enhancing policies are suggested: agricultural expansion and deforestation is reduced, or agricultural encroachment is stimulated. Although it is intuitive that intensification to increase production on existing cropland is the best way of reducing agricultural encroachment, this is not necessarily accepted scientifically (Byerlee et al., 2014). While investments in staple food crops has resulted in net-land saving of 20-30 million hectares (Evenson and Rosegrant, 2003, Stevenson et al., 2013), intensification of feed -and fuel crops, at the expense of pastures and natural vegetation, has been major drivers of agricultural expansion and environmental degradation (Nepstad and Stickler, 2008).

The majority of people living in rural areas especially in African  countries depend on agriculture for their livelihood, directly or indirectly, yet information on distribution of specific crops are limited (Anderson et al., 2014, World Bank, 2008). To study resource management and land degradation scientists has been using remote sensing analysis, i.e., obtaining information on crops typically aircrafts or satellites (NOAA, 2017). Supporters of remote sensing analysis argue that, while subnational statistics provide limited information on cropland trends, remote sensing has proved capable of providing reliable data on a timely basis to a fraction of the cost of traditional methods of collecting data (Nellis et al., 2009, Anderson et al., 2014). In 1857, Ernst Engel observed that poor families in Lesotho spent a greater proportion of their total expenditure on food, rather than manufactured goods. He concluded therefore that the wealthier the nation, the smaller the proportion of food to total expenditure. This became known as Engel’s Law, caused by less than unitary income elasticity of food commodities (Laitner, 2000, Baffes and Etienne, 2014).

Production of staple crops is not up to speed to satisfy the rapidly growing population (FAO, 2017, Harvey, 2013, Ray et al., 2013). Staple crops are food that is eaten regularly, even daily, in such quantities that it constitutes the dominant part of a population’s diet. Most people in the world live on a diet based on at least one or more of the following crops: rice, wheat, maize, barley, sorghum, cassava, potato, taro, yam, banana, plantain and soybeans. Together, these crops provide close to 90 % of world’s food energy intake, whereas more than 50 % of these comes from only three “mega-crops”: rice, wheat and maize (IDRC, 2010, O’Connor,2014). To satisfy the rapidly growing population, and changes in per capita consumption and diets, global staple crop production needs to double by 2050. However, a study shows that the three “mega-crops” only increases by 0.9 % to 1.6 % a year, far below what is needed to meet projected demands for 2050. Yield improvements are insufficient to keep up with the (project) demand increase (Ray et al., 2013).
The food sector in Cameroon is less competitive on the international market than non-food crops. Even with globalization, much of the staple crop sector remains largely non-tradable, producing mainly for the domestic market (World Bank, 2008). A World Bank (2008) report, ‘’Agriculture for development”, argues that staple crops such as cassava, yams and sorghum are rarely traded on the international market due to low international prices and trade barriers such as formal trade barriers, poor infrastructure, high transportation – and marketing costs and trade policies favoring cash crops. This is especially the case for rural areas and land-locked countries, where there is more isolated from the global markets, and exports often unprofitable. Because food prices are inelastic, production is price sensitive and therefore less tempting for entering the international market (World Bank, 2008).

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Developing countries including Cameroon rely on agriculture for economic take off. This is because more than 70% of its population relies on agriculture for their livelihood. What is more annoying is the fact that cases of food scarcity still remain more rampant and a call for global and national concern. Buea Municipality is one of the fastest growing towns in Cameroon. Increasing population is supposed to be met with an increase in food production and supply especially to the urban markets which host majority of individuals within the Buea Municipality.

Overtime in the Buea municipality, food supply to urban markets have been reduced tremendously as a result of several factors like poor farm-market roads, inadequate food supply chain and competition among local farmers. As a result, the urban markets in the Buea Municipality like O.I.C, Muea and Central market are deprived of basic foodstuffs that go a long way to cause food insecurity since majority of individuals lived in this urban centers and easily accessed the urban markets. This problem is worrisome because constant high prices placed on some foodstuffs remains a nightmare that has come to stay. There is daily increase in the prices of basic foodstuffs in the urban markets since rural areas cannot effectively supply enough food to the urban markets. Malnutrition and food scarcity therefore prevails in the Buea municipality.

However, anecdotal evidence opined that in Buea, middle-men absorb a significant portion of income in the food production value chain and leave the farmers with no price incentives to increase or even maintain local production, thereby reducing the efficiency of the market in the urban milieu.
1.3 Research Question

1.3.1 Main Research Question

Do rural areas efficiently supply urban market within the Buea Municipality?

1.3.2 Specific Research Questions

1) What is the state of urban market supply within the Buea Municipality?

2) How is the supply system been or organized in the Buea municipality?

3) What is the relationship between rural zones and food supply to the urban market?

1.4 Research Objectives

1.4.1 Main Research Objective

The main objective of this research is to examine the contribution of Rural zones efficiently supply urban markets in the Buea Municipality.

1.4.2 Specific Research Objectives

1) To investigate the state of urban market supply within the Buea Municipality

2) To examine the organization of the different supply system.

3) To evaluate the relationship between rural zones and food supply to the urban markets in Buea.



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